Monday, August 20, 2012

8/18/12 First Call Summer Marathon

My first time heeding the call of a First Call Marathon.  These very low key events are put on by Maniac Dr. Adrian Call.  For a couple of years now he has hosted races on the paved trail along the Sammammish River in Bothel WA, about 4 times a year.  The races are free, and no frills.  But he does accept donations and there will be plenty of food at the finish line.  Part pot luck, part provided.  On course there are some large jugs with Gatorade and water but no cups or staff.  I have wanted to run one of these races and today is the day to do it.  I am still mapping out my course to get to marathon #100 at Tacoma next May.  I need to fit in as many as I can, to get there.

Since I ran the 12 hour race just six days ago I am still recovering from that.  In fact if I can finish the 26.2 miles today, I will have a new mileage record for any seven day period (84 miles). Any kind of time goal is out of the question.

Very small race, but lots of friendly Maniacs.  Two things complicate the day a little.  One is that there are three different races (half, full and 50K) and three different start times (7,8,9) , but apparently any runner can start at any of the times.  The other change is that runners will have to go west on the trail for out and backs until after 10AM when the permit will allow us to run the eastern section.  I will start at 8AM.  That means that I will run west for 3.3 miles and then back to the start.  Repeat that, and since it will be just after 10AM, I can then go east for 6.55 miles and return to the start/finish line.  Double out and back first half, single out and back second half.  This will be the most crowded paved trail that I have ever run on.  So many bicyclists, walkers, joggers, and dogs.  And with so few runners in our race, starting at different times, I will seldom run with anyone.  After days of very hot weather it is cloudy and much cooler.  Temps will peak in the lower 70s, which is warm for racing, but will not seem so bad now after some of the hot running I have done recently.

Start to Mile 3.3 - Briefing by the RD and we are off.  Over the bridge and off to the right.  7AM starters coming toward us.  I take it nice and easy and actually the legs do not feel very sore.  I ran a total of 5 miles between Monday and Friday.  If anything will trouble me today it will be my left heel/plantar and or my right ankle.  Loosening/warming up now, I go just a little faster.  Suddenly I have very sharp pains in a couple of spots up and down my left leg.  In front and behind my knee, in the upper hamstring and maybe down in the shin too.  Very surprising and worrisome.  I walk and it feels fine.  I run slowly and it is fine.  I go faster and it comes back.  Walk and it is fine, run slowly and it is better, go faster and the pain comes back.  I take it really slowly and ponder if I should drop out after the first out and back.  Let John Shaphorst  and Andy Lin go on ahead.  More surprised than anything.  No idea what is wrong.  I continue on and the trail becomes more urban.  Two short tunnels that are good for loon calling.

Mile 3.3 to 6.55 - Return trip.  Hand slap Maniac Deb.  Short slow stride feels fine.  Before the start area I pick up the pace a little and have no pain.  Go a little faster and all seems well.  Whatever the problem was, it worked itself out.  It will not bother me at all any more today or after the race.


Mile 6.55 to 13.1 - Meet Maniac Stephanie who also ran the 12 hour last weekend.  She is only doing the half today.  From last weeks race, only Maniac Linda and I are running the full today.  We will finish with about the same times in both races.  This section is uneventful.  The trail is fine, but crowded.  I get back to the start at 2:08, about a 10 minute per mile pace.  No way that this will hold.

Mile 13.1 to 26.2 - Now the longer out and back, heading east to Woodinville.  This is all new for me and it is nice to run somewhere different.  Except the part about not being sure of the course.  A half mile into it and the trail splits and I really am unsure where to go.  John catches up ( I had passed him earlier) and we decide to go over the river.  Then we turn right and see a road and another road that goes more closely to the river and has faint purple chalk arrows on the ground.  We follow the arrows and it takes us down and around and back up to the road where we were on.  Other runners stayed on the upper road which goes straight to the continuation of the paved trail.  Our route added less than a tenth of a mile, and I am still not sure which was the correct route.  Now on the paved trail and it splits again.  The RD had said to follow the detour signs.  There is a detour sign here right in the middle of the split, with no arrow.  Really unsure about this one.  Maniac Mellisa joins us and we all go right, hesitantly. I don't mind a little adventure, but I really do not need any extra miles today.  So it is with great relief that after a mile more I see the aid station jugs.  Running and walking alone now.  Feet tiring.  Getting warmer.  Nice flat trail but crowded.  I resort to music, for the first time during a race in many years.  I have to keep the volume very low for safety though and it does not provide any great boost.  Look at landmarks ahead and try to run to them before taking a walk break.  Stop twice for blackberries.  Bridge way off in the distance that I can focus on.  So happy to see the turn around and start heading back.  Set a very easy goal of beating 5 hours.  John is way ahead now.  Linda starts catching up.  When I reach the detour/road area I know that I am getting close and I put on what speed I have so that she will not catch me.  Going well here and the legs feel fine.  Feet are the worst part.  Slow pace meant that my stomach was good and I was able to tolerate gels and Gatorade on the course.  Reach the finish in decent shape.  26.3 on the GPS.  Enjoy the recovery area and post race food.  Wait for a few runners to come in and then head home.

90 minutes from home, this race is a good option if I need to get a long run in, or am trying to build up marathon numbers. I hope that it stays small. 

11th place of 25
Race #278, Marathon or ultra #88

Monday, August 13, 2012

8/12/12 Transcendence 12 Hour - Olympia

Third annual event and my third time here.  I did not think that I would want to race today, it is my 23rd wedding anniversary.  But when Jody decided that this was the best time for her to have a vacation in Japan.....transcendence here I come.

The good: so close to home, 1.5 mile loops means no carrying aid and no getting lost, great organization as usual from Guerrilla Running and an amazing number of Maniac friends here today.  The multiple loops means that I should be able to see and run with many friends.

The bad: 1.5 mile loop around Capitol Lake.  I ran 38 loops last year and that event along with the previous year has done something to my mind.  This is a local hot spot for the running clubs and generally a nice place to run, but I start to shudder every time I drive by this place.

The history: The first year was extremely hot.  I ran 33.5 miles, a distance record for me.  I quit after about 6 hours due to the heat, but had fun.  Last year the weather was much better.  I ran 57.9 miles, my current record, in 11 hours 42 minutes.  Last year I ran about 10 minutes per mile for the first 6 hours and then dropped to 14 minutes per mile for the second half.  I had OK energy at times but had pain up my right leg that was much better during walk breaks.  Late in the race I was able to run better while on the crushed gravel than on the pavement.

The plan:  I must start slow.  Repeat: I must start slow.  Yes it will be cooler in the early hours, but running faster early on is not the strategy that I will take today.  I will try my best to keep the average pace between 10:30 and 11:00 per mile for at least the first 5 hours.  Hopefully then I can maintain that pace for a longer time.  I had a 12/mile average last year and quit with 18 minutes to spare.  If I can run a little faster average pace and squeeze in an extra lap, that will be a new record for me.  If everything goes very well and I do three more laps that last year, then I will have 62.4 miles which would be 100K. 

But then came the weather forecast.  Its going to be a hot one.  Maybe not as hot as the first year but still very warm.  In fact it will peak at 89 degrees in Olympia.  That is the same temperature as the Boston Marathon reached, but today I will try to run for 7 more hours than at that race.  The unshaded back half of the course will seem much hotter than the front half. 

0-26 miles - I do well to keep a nice slow pace.  Mostly on my own until mile 13.  The the Rogue Wave joins me for ten miles.  She is not my pacer, just doing her own run before volunteering here,  but we do run together.  I hold about a 10:35 pace, taking walk breaks any time that my pace approaches 10:30.  This course is so boring, all of the loops just merge together in my mind.

26.2-31.1 - Reach the marathon distance in about 4:50, about the same as my Boston time.  It is really hot now.  I have been putting ice cubes under my hat, but now Joe gives me a small Ziploc bag full of ice.  I can position that on my head and hold it in place with my hat and it is oh so nice.  It must have a small leak because a little drip of cool water keeps running down here and there.  It melts away by the end of each loop, where I can fill it with fresh cubes at the aid station.  I try to not linger at the aid station but I always get ice and have something to drink.  About every third time I stop at my supplies (cooler, chair and stuff) for one reason or another.  At about mile 29 I am hurrying to make a quick stop at my place when I smack my left shin into a metal picnic table seat.  I am tripping and almost falling on my face.  Balancing on my right leg as my left shin is screaming at me I manage to not fall over.  Surprisingly with all the people around, I do not think that anyone saw my crazy moment.   Sunscreen refreshed and I am on my way. Although the lake is fetid and nasty, at one one of these loops I stop for a moment to get a great look at two otters splashing around.

31.1 to 40 - Nice to have the 50K done.  Quite a few Manics will quit here since they got the required distance in to count for Maniac stats.  I decide to change my shoes and keep going.  I have never done that in a race before and hope that it will give me a lift.  I have been slowing.  The new shoes are a little roomier and feel nice, but do not make me any faster.  My pace is slowing with the heat.  Although I am better heat acclimated that in previous Summers, I am still afraid of pushing it in the super warm weather.  I just do not want to be that guy that collapses and no finish time or place is worth the risk to me.  At one point I get just a little fuzzy with the heat.  It is near the end of the loop, so I walk it in and sit for a while.(thanks Riki for looking out for me and for the lemon bar!)  Most of this section is a blur.  Running mostly alone.  What I remember is that Ginger had just passed me and then Jeff was helping her with ice and they spilled a bunch of ice cubes on the ground in the "oven" section of dusty gravel.  The next time I came around the ice was melted.  The next time around the damp spot was starting to dry.  The next time it was almost gone, then I could not see it anymore.  That was the highlight of that two hours.

40 to 51.8 - At times I feel like I am the last one still running.  I will never beat last year's distance so how far should I go?  Then I see a pack of runners or see that Craig has updated the leader board and I remember that this is a race.  I catch up to Marie and correctly guess that this is the final loop that she needs to do to complete 50K, which will give her 100 lifetime marathons or ultras.  I walk the second half of the loop and exchange a high five when she crosses the line.  She is not done yet and I decide that I am not either.  There is plenty of time left and my legs feel fine (feet are getting a little beat up) and I have good energy.  I should be able to reach 50 miles.  That loop will end at 50.2, so if I make it that will be my second farthest ever run.  Maybe it is getting a little cooler.  Ginger catches me and I am able to pick up the pace and stay with her for a short while.  She will go on to win the women's race and set a course record of 67 miles.  Counting down the laps now and in no hurry.  I am able to chat with more runners than I had previously.  Meet someone new, check in with old friends.  Encourage Katie who is a lap behind me and trying to get to 50 miles.  She is going to have to work hard to get there, while I stroll along, but she does it!  I reach 50.2 miles a little after 11 hours.  Some runners will stop here as it is a nice round number.  I have plenty of time, so I add one more lap, to finish at a slightly higher place.  At 11:33 I cross the line and call it quits.  I see no reason and no one can talk me into going for just one more.

I have 30 minutes to recover and relax before dinner is served.  Nice awards ceremony and I am surprised to see that I was the 2nd male masters runner and came in first in my age group.  Slow persistence paid off I guess.  I ended with over a 13min/mile pace and I second guess my strategy. Maybe next year I will go out faster and see what happens.

51.8 miles, 11 hours 33 minutes, 44 seconds
9th of 80
Race #277, 87th marathon or ultra, 3rd T12

Sunday, August 5, 2012

8/5/12 Race Against Crime 5K

Last minute decision to run this one.  I have not done a 5K in four months and have not done any speed training, so I expect to be well off my best.  This will get me some forced speed work for the week. I ran the 10K here two years ago. Day of race registration costs and extra $5 but I also get $5 off as a Club Oly member.  $25 includes a T-shirt.

Hot one.  Really hot.  Bright sun, no wind, and probably about 80 degrees.  The start is at 9:15AM.  It will reach 90 later in the day.  The crows in Rainier Vista Park in  Lacey all have their beaks open in a cooling posture.

My warm up is not so good.  I get in two miles and try to pick up the pace, but just do not feel like I have any speed.

Start - I line up directly behind the front row.  Lots of slower and more casual runners, plus more of the faster ones probably are running the 10K which started five minutes ago.  I should place well, maybe get an age group award.  It is a smooth start and I go out at a good clip, but not too fast.

Mile 1 - 7:18.  Really warm now.  Dump water on my head.  Turn right on to the paved trail. Shaded but not much relief.

Mile 1.55 - Turn around.  I am just behind one guy.  No one very close behind me though.  I am ahead of the first woman and quite a ways ahead of the next man.

Mile 2 - Holding steady pace but it is not easy.  I pass the one guy and can only hope that he will not challenge me later.  We are all spread out and as long as the one guy does not catch back up, no one will.  But I will not pass anyone else, the leaders are far out of sight.  Struggle along the road and bring it on home at a steady pace.

Mile 3 - Turn into the park.  Quick look to see that no one is close behind me.  Been thinking that I might be able to beat 23 minutes.  Now I see that it will be close.  I try to go faster, but just do not have the power.

Mile 3.1 - Finish in 23:05.  My slowest road 5K in quite a while but 7th out of 98 looks great.   Terra Perkins expertly places my tag on the results board.  Another volunteer hands me a cold wet cloth which is a wonderful treat.  I walk back to watch the others and the 10K finish.  Stick around to get my giant gaudy ribbon.

7th place of 98
Race#276, 5K#70